Nathaniel Joseph "Nate" Ruess is an American singer-songwriter and musician. He is best known as the lead vocalist of indie pop band Fun.
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I can answer questions. My new album was inspired by falling in love but also acknowledging the worst-case scenarios. It's called "Grand Romantic" and it drops today and you can listen to it for free now on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/nateruess/sets/selections-from-grand-romantic
I'm here in NYC with Victoria so AMA.
I had a blast on reddit. And I wasn't even surfing through a Serial page. Or looking up NBA stuff. Hope to see you guys again soon.
What did you do with the "Grand Romantic" jacket I gave you in London?
I have it right here! I'm gonna post a photo.
Hi, Nate! I've been a big fan of yours ever since I heard "The First Single" by the Format. I used to call up my local radio station (WEQX out of Manchester, Vermont) on my birthday just to request it.
Unfortunately, I've found the words to your songs can sometimes me a bit unclear. This forces me to come up with lyrics of my own just so I can enjoy singing along. For instance, in your song "Some Nights," I replaced the line "Some nights I wish that my lips could build a castle," with "Some nights I wish that my lips could kiss your asshole." Frankly, I think it's an improvement, especially when considering the next line ("Some nights I wish they'd just fall off.") You have my blessing to use it during your next live performance.
So my question is this; do your other fans find your lyrics as hard to understand as I do? What do you tell them when they tell you they have difficulties?
One of the perks of playing in a country where English isn't the first language is watching the way people are trying to sing back sometimes phonetically. With that being said, don't stop.
Galle has been your agent since back when you were in The Format... just how weirded out are you by the fact he hasn't aged at all the whole time you've known him? Do you think he's secretly a vampire?
I was falling asleep last night, thinking the exact same thing.
Who killed Laura Palmer?
I know you got a tattoo for the format and fun. Will you be getting a new one for your solo project?
I'm gonna go real meta, and get a tattoo of my face.
Nate - you've got such a unique voice for the current pop music scene. Can you talk a little about what sorts of vocal training/coaching you've had?
While Sam and I were making "Interventions and Lullabies," the label paid for me to have vocal lessons. Which is strange, because I'm horrible at taking lessons. Or advice.
And fortunately, the vocal coach told me that I was doing everything perfectly.
Beginner's luck, I suppose.
When was the last time you had nachos?
Really great question.
I'm a Mexican connoisseur. And therefore, don't often order nachos. I save those for when I'm in an Irish pub. However, I do recall having some a few weeks ago at band practice.
Im not sure who you are, but are you psyched for the HD remake of Final Fantasy VII?
Every day, I wait for FF VII.
Oh wait, we're not talking about the FAST & THE FURIOUS 7?
You guys are awesome. But I gotta go.
Hi Nate! Have you always thought about being a solo artist and did the success of Some Nights play a part in that decision?
I'd never really thought about being a solo artist. But the success of "Some Nights" played a big part in that. Because I was able to cross off a lot of goals that I didn't even know I had. And as someone who likes to be challenged, I found this to be the perfect challenge.
How was it like working with rap legend Eminem?
I didn't work with Eminem in the flesh. But the back & forth was amazing. He keeps (rightfully) everything really under wraps. So I didn't hear his verses until the song was released. To this day, it's one of my top 3 songs I've ever written. And all because of the verses he did.
Hey Nate! Huge fan of yours.
I was wondering if you could give me some background on this video: https://youtu.be/lXMIhv2MLAM
During the last ten seconds of the video you and Sam are playing a song that I've never heard before. Are you able to tell me what song it is and if there is a full version of it somewhere?
Also I was wondering if you knew anything about this photo: http://imgur.com/w1wfPB7.jpg
I found it while cleaning out the fire station that I work for in Crown King, AZ. It was quite the surprise to find!
First of all - Hahaha!
Someone needs to cut that hippie's hair.
We totally made that song up on the spot. I think we were poking fun at one of the newscasters or something.
Secondly, someone needs to tell that hippie to cut his hair! I don't remember cuz that was like 700 years ago. But that warmed my heart.
Did you climb a lot of trees as a kid?
I played a lot of video games as a kid.
As a runner, what's your best mile time and what is your mile pace when you go for a run?
Lately, I've been running 4 miles at about 7 minutes a mile.
But I was just talking to a friend who asked what he thought my fastest mile would be. And I'd like to think (and I'll soon test out) that I can do it in just under 6 minutes.
Hi Nate! I'm a huge fan and I have been for years. Your music means so much to me. It's been the soundtrack to the last few years of my life. I'm sooo excited to see you perform tomorrow at Webster Hall!! My favorite song of all time is Oceans so naturally I was incredibly excited to see it on your set list for the Grand Romantic tour. Can you talk about what the meaning behind that song was? Thanks!!
P.S Can we be friends? You're awesome
I had a girlfriend at the time who moved to California to go to school. And naturally, because of the distance, and our age, we drifted apart. And it was just about me trying to make sense of that.
Thank you for putting out such great music and congratulations on the new album. Grand Romantic is my favorite song off of it. My buddy and I listen to your music at work to get us through the day so thank you!
My question is what makes you want to put an intro on to your albums? Not complaining, in fact I really enjoy it. You do not see too many artists doing that nowadays. What goes through your mind when thinking this album needs an intro? And, what in your mind is a "Grand Romantic"?
When Jeff and I were sequencing the album, we had all these big ideas for interludes. And as we listened, we didn't feel the album needed any. So when the album was supposed to be turned in, I turned it in without an intro. Thinking Ah Ha would be a good way to kickstart it.
But after listening to the early sequencing, I felt like the song "Grand Romantic" needed some foreshadowing.
And so with less than a day to compose and put together, we stayed up until 5 AM making the intro.
And as I listened that night, the album felt complete.
And I'm a Grand Romantic. Duh.
What's your fondest memory of getting to work with artists like Eminem, P!nk, Panic At the Disco, and Janelle Monàe?
I love your music, both on your own and with Fun. You've got an amazing voice! Hopefully one day I'll be able to see you perform :)
Hopefully one day I'll be able to see you see me perform!
Working with artists like Eminem and P!nk was really inspiring. Because they've been at the top of their game for the last 15 years, and they're very uncompromising as far as what they're trying to put out in the world. My fondest memory out of the aforementioned would have to be writing "Just Give Me A Reason" with P!nk. I rarely sit down and write with people. And based on the outcome of that song, perhaps I should try and do that a little more.
Hi Nate I was wondering what modern pop artists would u want to collaborate with if you make another album? Or any deceased artist u would want to collaborate with if u had that chance? Thank u :)
I feel very fulfilled / lucky to have gotten to work with all the wonderful people I have. With that being said, I'm sure someone will come along who I'll want to work with, probably in the near future.
HEY NATE! Been a fan since The Format. My question is about the lyric "It's for the best you didn't listen. It's for the best we get our distance…" that comes up in AhHA, but was also in Some Nights (and I kind of feel like I remember it from another song as well)
My question is, is there some personal significance to that lyric, or is it more of an artistic call back?
It's a little bit of both.
Coincidentally, it was my favorite lyric on the album. And so I figured I'd carry it over.
is it true that you wrote the chorus of Die Young by Kesha for another song? if so whatever happened to that song?
I wrote the song as a topline for a bad club song, while I was trying to cut my teeth in writing for other people. And fortunately, the DJ didn't use it. And the Kesha people did.
Hey Nate! Wanted to start off by saying seeing you with fun. 13 times over the course of April 2012 to July 2013 were basically the best moments of my life and brought me out of a very dark time so thank you for that. Now to the questions!
'AhHa' especially resonated with me (the line about being in the basement especially) and you talked about bringing out the 'Grand Romantic'. I was wondering if it is less about romance, falling in love, and more about restoring the meaning of life and living and purpose in life again? And if that's more of the motif of the album.
And two, how do you feel about a fan base name of the Ruesstafarian's?
Firstly, you are correct as far as I'm concerned about the lyrics in the bridge of "Ah Ha." With that being said, I prefer people interpret however they want.
Secondly, I've never been more down for anything. Ever.
Hey Nate! I just wanted to ask if there may be a song book for Grand Romantic like for Some Nights? I would love to play these beautiful songs on my violin. Thank you for making such great music by the way.
PS:Your concert in Hamburg was amazing. I had the best time of my life(which is why I´ve still got my balloon)
That's so rad!
Those balloons were popping like flies.
If flies popped.
Hopefully, there will be a songbook for "Grand Romantic."
And if there is, I'd love to hear you play violin.
Do you think you and Sam would ever go on tour together again? Or would you bring him on as an opener?
I'm very thankful that Sam and I have been able to reconnect the way we have over the last few years.
With that being said, we never talk about getting the Format back together. However, I'd love the chance to share the stage with him again sometime soon.
I want to thank you for creating such fantastic music over the years. Dog Problems got me through some really tough times, and I want to thank you for being there for me.
There was a lot of very complex composition on that album. Are there any stories of specific songs that you've worked on over the years that took an exceptional amount of time to get the EXACT sound you want? Are there any songs that you would like to go back and sort of "reproduce" with today's resources?
Firstly, thank you.
That album means the world to me.
And coincidentally, that album took four months of nonstop work to record, and get perfect. With that being said, listening to it now and still such a huge fan of it, there are a ton of things that I'd love to change (or at least re-record).
First off, I love the songs from the album! Congrats on the album.
My question(s) for you are: Why was the album not issued on Vinyl? I'm a Vinyl freak and really thought this would be on Vinyl. Also, what was it like working with a legend like Brian Wilson? Your collaboration with him on "Saturday Night" was probably my favorite song on the album.
Thanks Nate and again, congrats on the album!
The album isn't on vinyl yet, cuz Sam and I took til the very last second to turn it in. And apparently these days vinyl takes like, 15 years to press. But look for it in the fall.
I would love to say that I collaborated with Brian. However, his genius took over, and I was but a mere vessel for his ideas.
Nate! I've been the biggest fan of yours since The Format days and I've loved everything you've put out since (got my Grand Romantic preorder yesterday and have had it on repeat!!!)
It's your first time riding solo as an artist - did this opportunity allow you to explore your own music style or did you find it difficult to create your own sound?
What's your favorite thing to do in Arizona?
Last Q: if you weren't a musician, what would you be, and why would it be an underwear protester.
PS - I'm driving to LA from PHX next week to see you perform live for the eighth time, can't wait!
I've always felt like the songs I write are kind of the sound. I'm lucky that i got to work with the same producers as "Some Nights." I feel like they're as responsible for the sound as anyone.
My favorite thing to do in Arizona is eat at Barrio Cafe. Or any of the Berto's.
It wouldn't be? Maybe. I'm not sure.
I used to drive with my friends from Phoenix to LA when I was younger to see concerts.
So who's the lucky girl? Or guy, if that's your preference...
"That's me old lady." - Wayne's World 2
Hi Nate! I saw you with fun. in concert at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Atlanta in 2013. You were phenomenal! I’ve been to my fair share of concerts, but your stage presence is second to none.
My question is: Where does that come from? Is there something specific that inspires you or does it just come naturally?
It started out from going to see punk shows, and seeing how those bands moved, and being inspired by that. But once I got onstage, it really came from the fear of people getting bored. And that crushing fear keeps me moving to this day.
Who is your most favorite musical artist or group of all time?
Boringly, the Beatles.
But Van Morrison is making his way up the ranks. Whenever I listen to him, I get inspired to write.
And I listen to him often.
Since you already have a huge influx of questions: which question do you WISH somebody would ask you?
I wish someone would ask me how I was doing.
Hi Nate! Huge fan of your work! I saw you once in Pittsburgh and I'll see you again in Toronto.
1). One thing I've always wondered is the meaning behind the title of "The Gambler". Do you have any inspiration or story you'd like to share about the writing of that song? It's my favorite fun. song, really special to me, and I feel like it's even more special for you.
2). Another quick question, I'd love to take a few photos of you at the show in Toronto next week, if these turn out well, how could I get them to you? It would be my dream to photograph one of my all time favorite singers!
Ps. Just wanted to join the choir saying that Grand Romantic met and exceeded every expectation I had, I love the emotion you put into it and it's very beautiful, well done :) and thanks for taking the time to do this!
1.) I originally wrote that song with Sam, in The Format. And the original melody sounded a lot like the Kenny Roger's song "The Gambler." And so we always called it that. And fortunately, that forced me to write the current melody of the song.
2.) You can tweet the photos at me!
Aww. Thank you.
Hi Nate! Long time fan here; I first saw you play with The Format in Atlanta back in 2004 and you guys quickly became my favorite band. I always knew you’d make it big, and it’s great to see you step out on your own with Grand Romantic, which is a fantastic record. A few questions…
1) What is the oldest song on Grand Romantic, the one that’s been floating around in your head for a while that you feel like you finally got right? Do you still have any songs that have been filed away since The Format days (like “Jumping the Shark,” which was lent to Eminem for his song, but was an idea for the third Format album) that might see the light of day at some point?
2*) “Sight of the Sun” was originally recorded for Some Nights, but there was a sample that you couldn’t clear, so you had to re-write the hook—am I getting that right? I’ve always wanted to know what that uncleared sample was. Also, if things had fallen through with Jeff Bhasker, who would have produced Some Nights?
1.) The oldest song on Grand Romantic would probably be "Great Big Storm." A handful of songs on "Aim and Ignite" were supposed to be on the third Format album. And I haven't checked with Sam on the archives, but I would bet that there's some decent stuff floating around.
2.) I'd rather not divulge the uncleared sample. But I think the sample was better for not getting permission. And if things had fallen through with Bhasker, I'd be sobbing somewhere.
I can think of loads of 'best' things about being you, but is there a worst thing about being you?!
I love the album artwork for Grand Romantic. What was the inspiration for it?
I always thought it'd be cool to do a portrait. So I google-searched just the word "portrait."
And I was blown away by the paintings of an artist named Teresa Oaxaca. So I reached out and by the end of the week, was on a plane to DC so that she could put me into her weird magical world. And paint me.
Strangest thing ever happened during a show?
One time I lost my tooth (that I'd already lost, but tried to glue on) in the UK of all places.
It just flew out, at the first note I sang.
It landed somewhere onstage. And I had no choice but to play the show looking like a freak.
I am still in a high after seeing you live in London last week. One of the best shows I have ever been to.
Q: What is your favourite thing about performing live (ie at a concert)?
It's gotta be hearing people sing the songs back to you.
It's totally true.
After now being active on social media,do you know what a meme is?
I'm all about memes.
Particularly J.R. Smith memes.
was it fun working with andrew on It Only Gets Much Worse?
Nate, I'm a huge HUGE fan. I'm a composer and author, and I intend one day to make a living doing both!
How did you get from where you started to where you are? What was the major thing the led you down the path to becoming who you are?
Why did you decide to write "Moment"? What is the story behind it? (it's my favorite song of yours, so far at least!)
What would it take for me to get where you are? How do you recommend I get 'known'?
And the most important question, it might seem a joke at first but it's sort of serious: does It Get Better or does It Only Get Much Morse?
Thank you for answering if you do, I am your biggest fan! Your music has helped me on more ways than you could imagine, and I just want to take this time to say thank you :) you're my inspiration!
1.) I was lucky to have a great support system in my parents. And I had a false sense of self-worth, that caused me to be unrelenting in my pursuit.
2.) I was really obsessed with the song "Nothing Compares 2 U" and the George Michael song "One More Try." And I wanted to make a song in the same vein. And it ended up being a little more country-esque (which is never a bad thing).
3.) Just believe in yourself. And go until you can't.
And then go again.
4.) It gets better. But sometimes, it gets worse. Not only.
In interviews you've mentioned that alongside the creation of Grand Romantic, you have grown to be more comfortable with yourself. What helped you do that and do you have any advice on how to obtain a more postive self-image?
I think the people around me played a huge part in me feeling better about myself. With that being said, I spend a lot of time alone. Trying to identify and acknowledge my shortcomings. However, I think it's important to identify the positives and let them consume you.
serious question - how do you feel while Fan's are waiting outside to meet you ? Do you aprecciate it ? i could imagine it's hard for you right after your concert's.
It's a little hard. I'm not much of a public person, despite my line of work. But I quickly forget once I actually get a chance to meet people and talk to them and hear their stories.
How stoked are you to get an award on the same nights as Van the Man and are you going to say hi to him?
Top 5 moment in my life.
However, a wise man once told me "never meet your idols."
Therefore, I'll be hiding in a corner.
What musical accomplishment are you most proudest of?
Not to shamelessly self promote, but it was making this album. By far.
What have you learned about yourself by producing a solo album?
I've learned to enjoy being around myself. It's a wonderful feeling.
Hi, Nate. I wonder if you have any love for poetry, and if so, who are your favorite poets? Love the new album.
Thank you, thank you.
I should get into poetry. And I find that whenever I read, particularly poetry, I'm a better lyricist as well as speaker in general.
Hey Nate! Love your work with the format and fun.! Did you ever think that Some Nights was going to be the huge success that it ended up being?
Having made music for such a long time prior to that, and always having people - whether it be family, friends, record label - tell you that each album was going to be "The one," I was certainly apprehensive / over it.
But our producer Jeff was so sure that it was going to be successful that we had no choice but to believe him.
I can't wait to see you tomorrow in NYC, Nate!
How have you liked touring so far with out the guys?
What are your plans for the near future now that your album has come out?
Thanks for your amazing music!
I can't wait to perform in New York tomorrow night.
It's gonna be a very special show.
I've had the best time touring with the Band Romantic.
Having toured with a handful of them in the past, I knew what I was getting into.
And it's one of the most comforting things in my life.
And now that the album's out, I have no choice but to answer questions and play concerts.
Hi, Nate! What's your process for writing a song like? Do you create the melody with the lyrics, or do you compose them separately? Also, do you ever get writer's block? Thanks for doing this AMA, and congrats on the new album!
Thanks. Songs come into my head just randomly. I could be anywhere. For this album, it mainly happened in the shower. I'd go for a run every morning, and I think that the endorphins were pumping. But it could happen in the car.
And if it's good, I'll sing it into my phone. And work on it later.
I do get writer's block. I usually don't write unless I'm writing an album. So I try and take 2 years off between albums and only like, write a couple of songs a year in the meantime.
Hi Nate, how did you choose the order of songs on the track list, like bright side to be last? I thought that the title track fit better at the end personally :-)
I felt like a new album started by the end of the album. So to an extent, the title track is the last song. However, I wanted the body of work to end like you're ascending to the afterlife.
What kind of music do you listen to when you run?
Sometimes I'll put my iPhone on shuffle. Weirdly, I have an Alice in Wonderland orchestral score that Apple won't let me delete, and it always comes up.
I feel as though I've lost many seconds trying to skip it.
Do you believe in telepathy?
Do you believe in telepathy?
And if so...what's my answer?
This current album pierces my soul because of how broad/vague your lyrics have become, do you think you are a better songwriter then in The Format years? The Format look me away from reality, this album makes me confront my reality. I need both types in my life.
Lucky for you, I have the solution.
I wouldn't say I'm a better songwriter. I'm just a little more aware of my surroundings, for better or for worse.
Hi Nate! I wanted to first of all say thank you for your music, it has gotten me through both the good and bad times of my life, and I am forever grateful. I can't wait to see you in Boston this Fall!! Now for my question - what would be your go-to karaoke song?
If I'm not worried about entertaining the crowd, I'd go with "Too Close" by Next.
But I recently learned (credit to James) that "Don't Look back in Anger" by Oasis is the ultimate Karaoke Jam.
Nate! How are you celebrating the realese of Grand Romantic?
My parents just flew in, so I have no choice but to take them to dinner.
Exciting, I know.
what was the hardest song to record for the album?
The toughest song was "You Light My Fire." Because Jeff and Emile weren't as keen to the song I was describing. So we didn't work on it often. However, after a couple of months of my persistence, they got into it, and now it's one of our favorites.